top of page


We’re a small think-tank focused on applying a systems perspective to some of the most urgent public policy problems that America is grappling with. Too often, policymakers and the general public see the problems we’re dealing with in simplistic, linear ways (“do X in order to solve Y”) when in reality there are dozens of systems that are all contributing to any one problem, making “simple fixes” do far less than their proponents believe they will.


Our goal is to research and lay out, as clearly as possible, the nature and scope of as many of the complex systemic problems facing America as possible. Systems theory and systems terminology give us the tools to clearly describe and communicate our understanding of the overall dynamics of some of the most fantastically complex systems in the world.

Our hope is that our work will create a basis for Americans of all political outlooks and educational levels to better understand the incredible complexity of the problems we’re dealing with, and give rise to better solutions in the future.


Draper L. Kauffman, CEO

Dr. Kauffman is an educator, entrepreneur, author, programmer, and award-winning game designer, and was a pioneer in the fields of forecasting and systems thinking. He received his BA in Strategic Forecasting from Prescott College and co-founded the Future Studies program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1971, where he received the first doctorate exclusively in that field in 1975. He is the author of five books on systems and forecasting.

He helped develop pioneering strategic forecasting methodologies at Stanford Research Institute, taught systems thinking and strategic forecasting at the University of Massachusetts and at Webster University in St. Louis, and taught systems thinking and modeling in the graduate Foresight program at the University of Houston. He was Director for Planning for Technology for the Houston Independent School District in the 1980s.

He also founded a game design company and two IT companies. He received six Origins “Best Game of the Year” awards, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design in 1997.

Morgan D. Kauffman, Executive Director

Morgan Kauffman is a writer, forecaster, systems modeler, data scientist, and consultant, with a decade of experience in public policy research and modeling climate change, tax and welfare policy, economic inequality, and other complex problems.

He has a Bachelor of Science in Geology and a Masters in Strategic Forecasting, both from the University of Houston. He has taught systems thinking and systems modeling in the graduate Foresight program at the University of Houston, and has written extensively on the use of a systems perspective in public policy. He is the co-author of the 4th Edition of Systems 1: An Introduction to Systems Thinking.


Systems thinking and modeling was first developed in the 1940s as “cybernetics.” At first it was used as a way to design feedback systems to provide guidance for weapons and automatic machinery, but it quickly grew from those military-industrial roots into the fields of Systems Theory and Systems Analysis, where it was used to model a wide variety of businesses and social and economic systems, not just mechanical and electronic ones.

The key figure in the development of a systems approach to public policy was Jay Forrester, a professor of management and engineering at MIT. Prof. Forrester created a computer language specifically for use in modeling complex systems, and used it to model the interactions of different systems that affect the development of a city over time (Urban Dynamics, 1969). He then applied the same process to a simplified model of the world (World Dynamics, 1971), sketching out the interplay between economic growth, population, resources, pollution, and food production.

These two books served as a “proof of concept,” demonstrating the value of making many assumptions about system interactions explicit, instead of hidden. A team of Forrester’s graduate students then continued the work with a grant from the Club of Rome, developing a more sophisticated model of the world system. This was published as The Limits to Growth in 1972 and became a huge – and highly controversial – international bestseller that sparked a profound debate over the limitations on growth in the systems that govern life on earth.

Also beginning in the 1970s, Jay Forrester, Draper Kauffman, Donella Meadows, and others began a concerted effort to make the concepts and vocabulary of systems thinking available to students and the general public. Prior to that time, terms like “feedback,” “exponential growth,” “tipping points,” “interdependence,” and even “systems” were seldom found outside of technical literature. Now it is common to find such terms in ordinary discussions, with no need for a definition or explanation.

In addition to the spread of basic concepts of systems thinking, there has been continued development of more powerful tools for systems modeling and analysis, allowing for much more advanced models of a wide range of social and economic systems. Systems modeling software such as Vensim, Stella, Anylogic, and more are now in widespread use by consulting firms, planners, government agencies, and schools as a means of helping people (from kids to CEOs) better understand the systems that they’re dealing with.

The goal of this foundation is to continue this educational effort by helping students and others become better systems thinkers, to foster better analyses of the complex problems America is grappling with, and to help us come up with better potential solutions to those problems.

bottom of page